UFC 268 Preview - Usman v Covington 2
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UFC 268 Preview - Usman v Covington 2

The UFC returns to New York's Madison Square Garden this Saturday night for a blockbuster UFC 268 event. The headliner features a welterweight title rematch between champ Kamaru Usman and challenger Colby Covington. The co-main event also features a rematch, as a women's strawweight title holder Rose Namajunas takes on Weili Zhang. With an explosive Justin Gaethje versus Michael Chandler also on the main card, this is a must watch event. MMA Viking previews a stacked card for what should be a thrilling night of action from New York.


UFC 268 Prelim Card

Opening up the event is a flyweight bout between CJ Vergara and Ode Osbourne. Despite coming off a KO defeat, Osbourne's experience should see him come out on top against the UFC debutant.

Badhdasaryan is heavily favored to win versus Bruno Souza, and it’s not a surprise given Souza is the one stepping in on short notice.

Dustin Jacoby battles John Allan in light heavyweight action. Jacoby is a big favorite and coming off a KO over a tough Darren Stewart.

Gian Villante returns to action when he faces Chris Barnett in a heavyweight bout. This fight is basically a pick ‘em between mid-30 aged fighters that should be light heavyweights, but should be some big punches and tiring before the final bell rings.

Ian Garry faces American Jordan Williams in welterweight action. “The Future” from Ireland is only 23 years old and is undefeated at 7-0 and is heavily favored to improve to 8-0 in his UFC debut.

Edmen Shahbazyan will look to return to the win column when he takes on Nassourdine Imavov in a middleweight matchup. While Imavov is a step down from his recent competition including Jack Hermansson and Derek Burnson, Shahbazyan needs to elevate his game to get back on a winning streak.

Phil Hawes will look to continue his unbeaten run in the UFC when he faces Chris Curtis in middleweight action. Although experienced, the debuting Curtis will find it hard to get a promotional debut win against Hawes who is expected to go 4-0 in the UFC.

Al Iaquinta makes his long-awaited return when he faces lightweight veteran Bobby Green. Iaquinta, who has focused in selling houses for money, hasn’t competed since a decision defeat to Dan Hooker back in October 2019. His long layoff and a two-fight losing streak sees him as a slight underdog against the always game Green whose stock went up in his decision defeats to Thiago Moises and Rafael Fiziev.

The featured prelim sees kickboxing champion Alex Pereira make his UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis in a middleweight encounter. There’s plenty of hype with Pereira, and the only man to knock out Israel Adesanya is well favored to get the victory in his promotional debut.

UFC 268 Main Card

Frankie Edgar (23-9-1) v Marlon Vera (17-1-1)

The main card opens up with an exciting bantamweight encounter between former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Marlon Vera. Edgar is coming off a brutal first-round knockout defeat to Cory Sandhagen. Vera, meanwhile, will look to go on his first winning streak in over two years as he is coming off a unanimous decision win over Davey Grant.

Edgar is well beyond his prime, but is matched up against one of the top 15 ranked fighters that he could beat.  If “the Answers” chin holds up, the former champ and betting underdog should get a decision victory.

Shane Burgos (13-3) v Billy Quarantillo (16-3)

A featherweight sleeper between Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo is also on the card. Burgos is currently on a two-fight losing skid after back-to-back wars with Josh Emmett and Edson Barboza, having been knocked out in the latter. Quarantillo, on the other hand, returned to the win column with a TKO win over Gabriel Benitez. Overall, he is 4-1 in the UFC and will be looking to earn the biggest win of his career yet over Burgos. Although Burgos might be coming back a little early from his KO loss, the hard hitting American should get the victory here.

Justin Gaethje (22-3) v Michael Chandler (22-6)

Arguably the most highly-anticipated fight on the card is a lightweight encounter between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler. Gaethje hasn’t competed in over a year since getting submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in their lightweight title fight. It snapped a four-fight winning streak for the former interim champion, and was not a good performance at any level.

Chandler is also coming off a lightweight title defeat. After enjoying a perfect UFC debut by KO’ing Dan Hooker earlier this year, Chandler would eventually get knocked out by current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. 

Although both fighters are decorated wrestlers, they prefer to stand and bang. “The Highlight” is a big favorite, but I see this fight as more of a coin flip.  I’d put my money on Chandler to land a big punch for a stoppage over Gaethje that could tire as soon as the end of round 1.

Rose Namajunas (11-4) v Weili Zhang (21-2)

The co-main event features a women’s strawweight title rematch between current champion Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang. Their first meeting took place in April, where Namajunas earned a surprising first-round knockout victory. It was Zhang’s first defeat in the UFC while Namajunas became a two-time champion.

Given the nature of the first fight, anything could happen.  This is reflected in the odds as the fight is virtually a pick ‘em. Zhang has huge power in her hands, while “Thug Rose” has the technique and timing to finish standing or on the ground.  This time, I think Weili puts it all together and finishes the American.

Kamaru Usman (19-1) v Colby Covington (16-2)

The headliner sees a welterweight title rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Their first meeting came at UFC 245 back in December 2019 as Usman and Covington fought in a back-and-forth war with Usman finishing the fight in the 5th round. Since then, Usman has reached a new level with impressive knockout wins over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal earlier this year. 

Covington hasn’t been as active as Usman as he has only fought once since their first fight -- a TKO win over an aging Tyron Woodley last September. And compared to their first meeting, Covington is a much bigger underdog this time around. 

“Chaos” has changed camps, and hoping to be more technical in the rematch.  The “Nigerian Nightmare” has also taken his training to focused trainings with Trevor Whitman and has never looked better.

There are no signs that Usman shouldn’t continue his dominant run.  I like Kamaru to get another finish, and this time earlier in the fight.




About Ryan O’Leary

Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.

V: 1.35.0 All rights reserved. August 2021